COLUMBIA, S.C. Wake Forest's Dave Odom took the job as
South Carolina's basketball coach Tuesday after the school's first
two choices turned it down.
"I think this was the first time I've ever been in the Carolina
Coliseum and been greeted with applause," Odom said as about 200
Odom, who spent 12 years at Wake Forest, said he met briefly
with South Carolina's players. He asked them to "give me a chance
to be their friend first, get to know me first, and then I hope
they'll want me to be their coach."
Athletic director Mike McGee, noting he had been involved in a
number of coaching searches, said "this one was especially long,
but I believe especially fruitful."
McGee several times erroneously referred to Odom as the school's
new football coach. After Eddie Fogler resigned, McGee sought
Kentucky's Tubby Smith and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun. Both were
offered the job, but turned it down.
The new coach said that did not bother him.
"If they were talked to, they should have been. They're great
coaches. ... If they were talked to, it didn't work out. Nobody
needs to make an apology about that," Odom said.
Wake Forest is expected to go after a head coach to replace Odom, although assistant Ernie Nestor will try to land the job. Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman hired Bob Bender at Illinois State and the two remain friends, making Bender, now at Washington, a legitimate candidate.
Gonzaga's Mark Few, UNC Greensboro's Fran McCaffrey, Charlotte's Bobby Lutz, UNC Wilmington coach Jerry Wainwright (a former Wake Forest assistant), South Carolina State's Cy Alexander and Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings are expected to be on the list as well.
Odom, 58, had a 240-132 record at Wake Forest. He said he was
interested in the South Carolina job early and watched the search
unfold, but resisted "making some flirting action that would catch
His contract at South Carolina is expected to be comparable to
the $750,000 he made with the Demon Deacons.
Odom's hiring ended a search that began when Fogler resigned on
March 12 with three years remaining on his contract. Fogler left
after McGee would not extend the contract to a fourth year. Fogler,
who was at South Carolina for eight seasons, was 15-15 with a
first-round NIT loss to Connecticut in 2000-01.
Published reports linked at least a half-dozen candidates to the
job during the search. McGee refused to identify or discuss any of
his candidates, but promised to hire a proven winner to help fill
an 18,600-seat arena scheduled to open at the start of the 2002
Fans expected a big name after Lou Holtz's hiring energized the
football program in December 1998.
In Odom, the Gamecocks have a coach who took Wake Forest to
postseason appearances in 11 straight years and won the 2000 NIT
title. Odom is a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the
The search took another interesting twist when McGee met with
former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins. The South Carolina
graduate accepted the job last time it was open eight years ago,
before Fogler was hired, then changed his mind two days later and
returned to Georgia Tech.
Cremins said Tuesday he was ready to take the job and stay a
little longer, but understood the timing was not right. "I have
now come full circle with my alma mater," he said.
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